I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to tell you what’s been going on lately. I could just say, “a lot.” I could just leave it at that. Perhaps I should……hmm…tempting.
Two weeks ago today, Sarah and I were able to attend a Sharing the Hope seminar given by the Crescent Project. This was a full-day seminar on how to share the message of Hope that we know so personally with the Muslim world. This was an awesome day! I highly suggest that if you are interested in reaching these people that you attend a seminar like this or do their online training. They even have, Bridges, a small group study. Very good stuff.
Here are some of the bridges that exist between Islam and Christianity – these are important pieces that can allow for dialogue between Muslims and Christians:
Surah 3:2-3 (Quran) says that the Quran came to confirm the Torah and Injeel (New Testament of Jesus).
There are 99 names of God in the Quran – only three reveal characteristics of God that we wouldn’t agree with…that’s 96 characteristics of God that we share in common.
Surah 2:136 indicates that Muslims should believe in Jesus. (I seriously didn’t know this till recently…how awesome is this fact!!!)
With all that is going on in the media and with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is easy to get a feeling of hopelessness for the Middle East. The more Sarah and I actually learn about the people of this region the more hope we gain. I hope we can share some of this with you as we journey east.
I’ve recently read a couple of articles that have given a face to the struggle of people in this region. I believe that we need to make it personal. We need to care for our future brothers and sisters as if they already hold those titles. The first article chronicles the struggle of woman in Iraq. The second illustrates a husband/father that is literally torn in two by the violence and the hardships his family now faces. These are real stories. They are real people. It is far too easy for us to see this region from a distance but here’s a chance to see a glimpse of daily life in Iraq.
James chapter 1 talks of wisdom, temptation and how we are to act or live. In verse 26-27 and into chapter 2 James speaks of preferential treatment – who we are to serve. I know there is a need to care for one another here in our churches. But I also know that we are called to care for the people from all nations . We know the need in the Middle East. If we don’t act on this are we not discriminating among ourselves and become judges with evil thoughts as it says in verse 4 of chapter 2? I believe we (me included here) have gotten very good at caring for our fellow believers, especially those near us. I’m concerned that we haven’t reached out enough to the widows and orphans, those who are yet to believe, those who are in far away places we can easily ignore. So, let’s be obedient and find a way to bring hope to people like these. (Your thoughts on this are appreciated. How are we doing on this?)
I was going to end there…but I just thought how SAT-7 is reaching people like those in the articles above. Did you know that SAT-7 produces a women’s program, Kol el-Donia which addresses issues that women are currently facing in this region? SAT-7 Kids went live in December 24/7. One of the programs on SAT-7 Kids addresses children with disabilities. 80% of SAT-7 programming is originally produced, aimed at the needs of the people from this region.
There are ways for us all to be involved with what God is doing in this region. Here is a list of practical ways to begin follow to take Hope to the widows and orphans:
Pray daily for these people
Encourage your church’s mission board to consider it’s role in the Middle East/N. Africa
If you are on a church mission board, invite a missionary to speak (we’d be happy to of course)
Send a missionary to this region (we may know a couple…just ask)
Pray for and support SAT-7 (www.sat7.org)
Lastly, I’ve been talking with Calvin a lot lately about love (especially toward little sis). These verses have been very helpful for these discussions…but also seem highly appropriate for this posting.
Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”